U.N. leader pleads for aid to Somalia
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all countries Thursday to provide urgent military support to Somalia’s beleaguered transitional government, warning that its survival is at stake.
Two allied Islamist insurgent groups -- Shabab and the Islamic Party -- launched an offensive after the return of an exiled insurgent leader in April that has killed hundreds of Somalis and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. Ban said the violence has worsened the humanitarian crisis in the country, with at least 3.2 million people requiring food and other aid.
The fragile U.N.-backed government and an understaffed, poorly equipped African Union peacekeeping force have struggled to defend government buildings, the port and airport in the capital, Mogadishu. The government holds only a few blocks of the city.
In a quarterly report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban asked the world “not to waver in the face of the recent upsurge in fighting.”
“The coming days and weeks will be critical,” the secretary-general said. “The government clearly needs urgent military support in areas of personnel, arms and logistics to sustain its success in warding off insurgent attacks and defending key installations.”
The transitional government led by President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed has called for military and other aid, but the response has been slow.